Gelo di Melone: an unusual summer dessert

Discussion in 'Recipes' started by pongi, Jun 30, 2002.

  1. pongi


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    Some time ago I mentioned in another thread an unusual (but, to my taste, delicious) summer dessert, Gelo di Melone (Watermelon jelly).
    It's a traditional recipe from Sicily, almost unknown in the other Italian regions but very easy to make as it doesn't require any special ingredient. Contrary to what you could think if you look on a dictionary, Gelo di Melone doesn't call for melon, but for watermelon, as in the sicilian dialect the word "melon" ("Muluni") just means watermelon...and don't ask me which word they have for "melon" as I can't speak Sicilian at all:D
    So, since it's just the right season, this is the recipe:


    Ingredients (serve about 6):

    1 watermelon (about 9 lbs)
    150 gr sugar
    120 gr wheat starch
    1 tbsp powdered cinnamon
    30-40 fresh jasmine flowers
    100 gr candied pumpkin (or mixed candies)
    50 gr bitter chocolate drops (in Sicily they have chocolate watermelon seeds...but if you cross Scilla and Cariddi they're not so diffused;) )

    1)Skin and seed the watermelon, process it in a blender (or push through a sieve) and take 1 liter of juice.

    2) Put it in a bowl with the sugar, starch, cinnamon and jasmine flowers. Bring to the boil on a low heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and cool it down at room temperature, stirring occasionally. It should be still quite fluid.

    3)Add the candies, diced in small cubes, and the chocolate drops. Give a mix and pour into a round pudding mold, moistened with water. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

    4)Put the Gelo out of shape, sprinkle with cinnamon and garnish with chocolate drops and jasmine flowers before serving.

    Very simple, as you can see...but the taste is really something different from any other dessert! More, it's also suitable for most ethnic meals like North-African, Middle eastern, Indian and maybe even Chinese or Japanese, and very nice to see when it's decorated with flowers.
    If you can't find jasmine flowers you can substitute them with few drops of Orange Flower or Rose water.
    On the other side, don't change the wheat starch with other thickeners, or the consistency will be totally different. The only other thing I have tried successfully is Agar Agar. At the dose of 5 grams each liter of juice, it gives a very good result, even nicer and more delicate than the original. The only problem is that, due to the different thickening way, you cannot add the candies and chocolate drops as they lay down on the bottom. So, if you opt for Agar it's better to put the Gelo in small individual molds and add the drops and candies only as a garnish, just before serving.

    Hope you like it!

  2. cape chef

    cape chef

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    Professional Chef

    What a wonderful recipe, the flavor of the watermelon with the jasime sounds very for the candied pumpkin,can you buy this already prepared?as we have no pumpkin availible this time of year.
  3. suzanne


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    Food Editor
    Yes, that sounds wonderful!

    CC: I've seen -- and bought -- candied pumpkin near the Los Angeles Amtrak station, in the "old-town Mexican" area (can't remember the name of the street. It might be available in some of the Mexican stores here on the East Coast. Or else we can ask Monkeymay to bring some this coming weekend! ;)
  4. pongi


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    candied pumpkin is pretty easily available in Italy, and it's usually included in the "mixed candied fruit" packages as well.
    Of course Suzanne can be much more helpful than me if you want to find it...but if you can't, mixed candies can be quite good the same, since their taste shouldn't prevail in any case over the other flavours.

  5. athenaeus


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    At home cook
    You know Pongi, I have the memory of the elephant and I was waiting for this recipe :)
    You have mentioned it in one of your early posts.

    I will try it tomorrow because I have some friends for barbecue and I will let you know how will go :)

    Mouts! A.
  6. shroomgirl


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    Professional Caterer
    Remember the candied unidentifeds at tha Italian market we had lunch at in Chelsea? Are the chocolate watermelon seeds just a shape or real seeds covered in chocolate? Candies? Is this like jello or jellies?
  7. monkeymay


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    Pongi -
    I think the pumpkin preserves you speak of is maybe zuccata?which is made with zucchini or cucuzza in Italian. It is a big twisting 'S' shaped type squash, pale green in color- I'm growing it here and the plant is called 'Zucchetta Rampicante'. I know you can also use regular zucchini that's gone to seed.

    Zuccata is what I have seen to garnish the gelo di melone.

    Here is the recipe from "Sweet Sicily" by Victoria Granof

    2# of large, past its prime zucchini
    1 tbs. of salt
    3 c. sugar
    1 c. jasmine water or 2 tbs. rosewater
    1 c. water

    Peel the zucchini, halve, remove the seeds, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Sprinkle with the salt, place in a colander, and leave to drain for 1 hour.

    Rinse the salt off the squash and gently squeeze to extract the excess salty
    liquid. Soak in water to cover for 12 hours, changing the water 3-4 times.

    Drain the fruit and squeeze gently again to extract the excess liquid. Transfer to a saucepan and add the sugar, jasmine or rose water, and water.
    Simmer, stirring for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the syrup is thickened and the fruit translucent. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

    As for the gelo - Victoria uses cornstarch in her recipe and I know she's had good results with it. She uses 2/3 cup of cornstarch to 3/4 cup of sugar to 5 pounds of watermelon. I don't know if that's the same ratio as your recipe-
    I'm not that familar with grams unless I have a scale in front of me...
    The rest of her ingredients are the same as yours.
    All I really know is gelo di melone is one of my FAVORITE summer things.
    If I get enough cucuzzas on my plant I will try to make some preserves before this weekend, but they're all pretty small right now.

    p.s. I will try to get the eggplant and chocolate recipe out to you soon.
  8. pongi


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    I'm really pleased about your good memory:)
    Hope you and your guests will be as pleased as I am about the recipe!

    you're right to be puzzled as I haven't been clear enough, being not familiar with the terms "candy" and "jelly" whose Italian equivalents have a different meaning.
    In Italian, the word "candito" doesn't indicate any small sweet made of sugar, but exclusively the candied fruits, whole or diced.
    So, when I speak of "zucca candita" I don't mean a preserve or a gelatine, but candied pumpkin pieces (like candied orange peel). The packages of "Canditi misti" usually contain candied cherries, orange or cedar peel, pumpkin or just watermelon...
    On the other side, the word "gelatina" means both a jellied candy and a pudding with a jellyish texture, like the Gelo di Melone (which is only one of the many "Geli" they make in Sicily: there are also a "Gelo d'Arancia", "Gelo di Caffè" and so on)
    As for mock watermelon seeds, they're entirely made of chocolate! It wouldn't be kind of the Sicilians to force you to crunch and munch those small tiresome guys, instead of enjoying the Gelo melting into your mouth... ;)

    As I said above, "zucca candita" isn't Zuccata...but your recipe looks wonderful! The "zucchette rampicanti" are widely diffused in all the Italian coastal regions, Liguria included, and I often get them as a present, so I'm looking forward to have one to try this recipe...thanks!
    I have tried to make the Gelo di Melone with cornstarch, but to my taste it didn't end up so good. The texture is different, too heavy, and also the color is more opaque, so I suggest you to look for wheat starch (in Italy it's commercially available with the name "Frumina") and try with it. Sorry for having not converted the doses before, I can do this now but if I remember well the required amount of wheat and corn starch to get the same result isn't just the same:

    Each 2 pounds watermelon juice:
    4.8 oz sugar
    3.8 oz wheat starch
    3.2 oz candied pumpkin
    1.6 oz chocolate drops, plus the garnish

    AS for thr eggplant-chocolate recipe...I'm waiting!:lips: